Does Takeoff & Estimating Software Mean The End of Blueprints for Electricians and Other Contractors?

Jul 4, 2019

women-workingAll responsible businesses are making moves to reduce their carbon footprints and implement sustainable practices. Cloud-based software is one of the innovations that are making an instant impact. With all the information hosted digitally on a server, there’s limited need for folders, printers, and sticky notes anymore. Blueprints, however, are such an integral part of the building industry, is it really possible to replace them?

Well, let’s look at the numbers as to why we should think about retiring them in the first place. Research shows that 42,000 trees are killed each year to print the estimated 37 million blueprints that are printed each year. Between architects, project managers, building owners, engineers, and tradesmen – especially the likes of electricians and plumbers, there’s a massive number of plans being printed and reprinted.

Aside from the impact on greenery, think about the additional pollution from the paper factory, transportation and ink cartridges used at the printing shops and the carbon footprint of a single blueprint swells. Suddenly you can see the impact on the environment relying on paper-based blueprints has. Construction worldwide is only going to increase as the world’s population grows. It’s time to rethink the blueprint, experts say. We’ve been doing it this way for over 150 years, so how can we make the change?

Digital Plans Don’t Need Paper

All the blueprint-based activities we’re used to in the construction industry can be achieved using cloud-based takeoff software. As a contractor, you can view plans, measure lengths and volumes, and markup plans on a digital device. Plans are saved as PDFs or CAD files, which means copies can easily be emailed to co-workers, colleagues, and clients. There’s no need to print them. You can sketch, draw, and mark them with ease. You can add notes or alternative versions. The limitations are endless.

What about practicality? You’re on a site where it’s raining. You no longer need to worry about your blueprints getting wet, damaged, or lost among the other clutter that can occur on a building site. You can easily access new versions of the blueprint, which eliminates confusion and saves time. You won’t need files and boxes to store them – all you need is your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, and you can literally access hundreds of blueprints on the go.

There are other benefits. The files are integrated with construction cost estimating software, making it simple to take measurements and automatically calculate material quantities and volumes you need. The software will also give you accurate material and labour pricing so you can take all overheads into account. You won’t underbid for a job again as you’ll calculate the true cost of a job. In terms of improving your profitability, this is key and may be the shift your business needs right now.

Going paperless is the right thing to do, but it will also save you money. This is an excellent incentive for making the switch. Think of the money you’ll save on printing costs. You’ll initially invest in the software such as GroundPlan, but it will pay for itself when you consider you’ll no longer be shelling out money every month to a printer. As a commercial construction firm you may bid on up to 100 jobs a year, and for each of these you’ll print off ten 10 blueprints. This could cost you over $3000 in prints over a year. A one-time purchase of software makes sense when you crunch the numbers.

Our reliance on paper in the construction industry is just one of the ways we can move forward with more sustainable solutions. The building industry has a responsibility to do so in as many ways it can, and switching to digital blueprints is a no brainer.